Farmers living in fear of criminals
Sex trafficking, illegal raves and thefts reported
FARMERS are being threatened by gangs, having livestock and machinery stolen and weapons used against them.
The Thames Valley Police and Crime Panel has heard the types of rural crime farmers and landowners are facing and the impact it is having.
Farmers and landowners recounted examples of poaching, sex trafficking, machinery being stolen, illegal raves, and having their families threatened.
Police have had reports of women being brought from Europe on the vehicles used to take away stolen machinery.
Chairman of the Bucks branch of the National Farmers Union Anthony Aston spoke at the meeting recently about the violence, saying farmers faced people with weapons.
He said: “When they have tried to stop people stealing machinery they have been threatened – and their families have been too.
“Some live in fear. Once there has been one intervention by a gang, [there is that] fear they will come back again.
“I have had someone come in with an air weapon who was trespassing on our land.
“We called the PCSO who came and managed to apprehend them.
“More could be done though.”
Mr Aston said machinery stolen by gangs, often was in Europe 24 hours later and sheep that had been stolen were not traced, raising the question where they were sold.
He said: “You can’t lock every gate and door behind you when you’re working.
“They are often watching you anyway so it’s a real problem.”
The Bucks branch of the Country Land and Business Association, Christopher Ansty, said he had a trailer and tractor stolen after he had attached them to prevent the trailer being taken.
“They just took both,” he said.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Baldwin, whose portfolio includes rural crime, said those responsible were organised, worked in gangs and sometimes to order.
He added police had run tagging events to help trace stolen machinery and he said the culprits were often those also committing urban crimes and were not from the area.